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Thursday, 20 February 2020

Egypt's NileSat halts broadcast of Hezbollah's TV channel over 'sectarian' material

Zeinab El-Gundy , Wednesday 6 Apr 2016
Al-Manar TV channel
A logo for Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV channel (Photo: Web)
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Views: 2843

Egyptian satellite company NileSat halted the broadcast of Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese channel Al-Manar on Wednesday, in a decision the channel said was politically motivated.

Hamdy Monunir, the chief technical officer at NileSat, told Ahram Online Wednesday that the administration of NileSat had sent official notices to Al-Manar after it had breached its contract several times.

"We followed all the legal procedures and yet they did not listen, and so we took an action," he said, adding that the violations were related to broadcasting sectarian material. 

The Egyptian-owned satellite NileSat is among the most-watched satellite television services in the Arab world.

In December, the administration of Saudi Arabia-based ArabSat, another popular satellite operator, cut the broadcast of Al-Manar for violating its contract and broadcasting sectarian material. 

In March, the Arab League designated Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

In statements to AFP, Al-Manar officials denied that the channel had violated its contract

"This is a political decision, not an industry decision. Al-Manar has nothing to do with sectarian strife," the channel's general manager Ibrahim Farhat told AFP, calling the move "unjust and arbitrary.”

"This is part of the political problem in the region that they're taking out on the media," Farhat said.

An anonymous senior NileSat official told AFP that channels "must abide by not airing any violent or racist content, or provoking sectarian strife.”

The NileSat official added that no other Lebanese television channel had violated their contracts.

The television channel, which is owned by the Lebanese Communication Group, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, sent a series of tweets explaing how the channel could be viewed online, as well as via Russian satellite Express AM.

The decision to cut the transmission of Al-Manar TV came hours ahead of the visit by Saudi Arabia's King Salman to Egypt on Thursday.

In February, the Saudi kingdom halted a $3 billion programme of military aid to Lebanon in protest at what it said was "the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state."

As a result of the decision, tensions have increased between Lebanon and the kingdom, as well as other Gulf states.

Some Gulf states have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon and to avoid travelling there.

Cutting controversial broadcasts

In the past, NileSat has halted the broadcast of television channels in relation to the broadcast of controversial material.

In July 2013, following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the administration of NileSat stopped the transmission of 10 pro-Morsi Islamist channels, citing complaints about their violence incitement content.

In June 2014, the Egyptian-owned satellite operator stopped the broadcast of three Iraqi television channels for broadcasting sectarian material.


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